New research released by The Australian National University (ANU) today calls for greater coordination in the development of tech policy in Australia, highlighting the negative effects for our economy, security and human rights if we don’t.

“The Albanese Government is directing significant expertise and resources into building a tech ecosystem to tackle the real issues that concern us all – from climate, to energy, health and the future of work,” Professor Johanna Weaver, Director of the ANU Tech Policy Design Centre and report lead author, said.

“Major reforms in privacy, cyber security and digital identify are expected in 2023. Equally important are the national reconstruction fund – which will inject billions into advanced manufacturing, renewable and critical technologies – and the Albanese government’s jobs, productivity and skills agenda.

“However, cultivating coordination for better tech policy is a missing link in delivering on this ambitious agenda.”

Earlier research by the ANU Tech Policy Design Centre, Tending the Tech-Ecosystem, released in May 2022,found that one key barrier to effective tech regulation was a lack of coordination between and among politicians, policymakers, regulators, industry and the rest of the tech-ecosystem.

“Too often, tech policy is developed in silos, resulting in duplication, dilution of efforts, and persistent legal gaps,” Professor Weaver said.

“For example, privacy, cyber security, and digital identity are each led by different ministers, different departments, and are subject to different internal Australian Public Service coordination and approval processes.

“Our new report, Cultivating coordination, recommends a new model to streamline tech policy coordination in Australia, while uplifting the capacity of all actors in the tech-ecosystem.

“This matters because, if we get tech policy right, it will reinforce democracy, drive economic growth, and enhance security, while protecting fundamental human rights.”

The new research draws on international best practice, and extensive consultation with stakeholders in government, industry and civil society.

The report recommends the establishment of a Tech Policy Ministerial Coordination Meeting, to formalise coordination among ministers before proposals are taken to Cabinet.

Other recommendations include establishment of a Tech Policy Coordination Council and Office to act as stewards of the tech policy ecosystem, and expansion of the existing Digital Platform Regulators Forum to enhance coordination among and between tech policymakers and regulators respectively.

Download the full report online. This research was made possible by generous support from ANU and Microsoft.

The Tech Policy Design Centre is a nonpartisan, independent research organisation at The Australian National University. Its mission is to develop fit-for-purpose tech policy frameworks to shape technology for the long-term benefit of humanity. The centre works to mature the tech-governance ecosystem in collaboration with industry, government, civil society, and academia.

Top image: Raimundas/stock.adobe.com

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